Fran: Intelligent and intuitive?
AbstractDictionaries are often (also) offered to users through dictionary portals which combine different dictionaries and often other reference works. Such portals are the answer to the needs of a modern dictionary user, used to a instantaneous access to different types of information at a single site. Dictionary portals have been present in Slovenia for some time, however, the recently launched portal Fran of the Fran Ramovš Institute of the Slovenian language at the Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (ZRC SAZU) is the first one to focus solely on monolingual dictionaries (general, historic, dialectal and terminological) and thus brings an important change to the use of monolingual dictionaries in Slovenia. The paper first looks at the classification of multi dictionary websites and offers an overview of selected foreign and Slovene dictionary portals. Then, a detailed presentation of Fran is made and an evaluation undertaken. While Fran appears useful by offering access to 21 different dictionaries, especially all Slovene general dictionaries (although the access to the recently published second edition of the Dictionary of Literary Slovene is limited to the users who purchased the print version), a closer inspection reveals several problematic aspects, such as a lack of a central dictionary or a group of dictionaries, unclear criteria for ordering of results, using print view for showing results, limited filter functionality (e.g. no option of limiting the results to contemporary general dictionaries), and links to external websites instead of full entries for terminological dictionaries. In general, it appears that the limitations of the design and functionality of Fran reflect the fact that most of the dictionaries it contains have been developed for the printed medium. This begs a question whether this is a direction that is advocated by the authors/owners of Fran, a direction that will be taken by all the dictionaries that will be added to the portal in the future, as well as the lexicography at the Fran Ramovš Institute of the Slovenian language.
Copyright (c) 2014 Iztok Kosem
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